From Illinois Public Radio - News -

Springfield Vet Honored For World War 2 Service In Segregated Unit

DeLoyce McMurray

DeLoyce McMurray served in the Marine Corps during World War II. He and more than 19,000 other African Americans became known as "Montford Point Marines" — named for the location of their segregated boot camp. (Brian Mackey/IPR)

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was in Springfield Tuesday, presiding over a ceremony to honor a World War II veteran.

Four days after DeLoyce McMurray graduated from high school, he joined the Marines. But instead of training at Parris Island, McMurray was sent to Montford Point. That's where the segregated Marine Corps trained its African-American recruits.

While not as well-known as other black units like the Tuskegee Airmen, last year all 19,000 of the so-called Montford Point Marines were made eligible for the Congressional Gold Medal.

Surrounded by family and well-wishers, McMurray, 87, lamented his comrades who could not share in the recognition.

"My brother Wesley, who went in about a month before I did," McMurray said. "Winston Harrison. Rocky Ford. ... Oh, I could name so many. ... They're all dead. So I accept this medal for them."

McMurray served on Guam, Saipan and Wake Island, and helped with the wounded at Iwo Jima. In civilian life, he became a computer programmer for the Department of Defense, and was married to his late wife for 64 years.

Categories: History, Military